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Donna Joyce, school bookkeeper from LI, charged with embezzlement, says Queens DA

A Farmingdale woman was charged Thursday with using her position as a bookkeeper to embezzle $485,000 from a nonprofit school for special needs children.

Donna Joyce, 58, was charged in Queens state court with grand larceny and falsifying business records while she worked at Martin De Porres School in Springfield Gardens. The school relocated to Elmont in late 2012.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown's office said that between 2007 and 2012 Joyce used school funds to pay personal bills, including her Macy's, Citibank and American Express credit cards, and made false entries in the school's books to cover the theft.

"The Martin De Porres School relies heavily on government aid and private donations to provide tuition-free education to scores of children . . . " Brown said. "In an atmosphere of such giving, it is disheartening to see someone . . . siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars in school funds for her own personal use."

Joseph LoPiccolo, Joyce's lawyer, said she intends to plead not guilty to the charges. He said the school had a procedure of asking employees to pay for expenses and reimbursing them.

"We anticipate a large dispute about the amount of money allegedly taken by my client due to the accounting practices and procedures of the school," he said.

The school, according to Brown's news release, fired Joyce after finding financial irregularities and brought the case to the attention of the district attorney's office in 2012. It says it has revamped its financial controls.

LoPiccolo said Joyce is now employed in a retail job. She was expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Queens Criminal Court.

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